TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady’s retirement lasted 40 days.
Brady said Sunday he was returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his 23rd NFL season. The seven-time Super Bowl champion announced his decision on Twitter and Instagram, saying he had “unfinished business.”
“Over the past two months, I have realized that my place is always on the pitch and not in the stands,” he added. Brady wrote. “That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa.”
In the last two months, I realized that my place was always on the pitch and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates and I love my family who support me. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. LFG Unfinished Business pic.twitter.com/U0yhRKVKVm
—Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 13, 2022
The announcement comes the same day Brady posted a video to his Instagram Stories in which soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo asked him, “You’re done, aren’t you?” Brady’s response wasn’t audible, but the look on his face suggested he really hadn’t closed the door on retirement.
In a statement late Sunday, Bucs general manager Jason Licht said the announcement was something the team had been preparing for in recent days.
“[Head coach Bruce Arians] and I had a lot of conversations with Tom recently that led us to believe there was a realistic chance he wanted to come back,” Licht said. “Tom is the greatest quarterback of all time who always plays at an elite level. With this decision now made, we will continue to move forward with our off-season plans to reload this roster for another championship run.”
Two weeks ago, the NFL Combine Arians said he didn’t think Brady would return, adding that he felt the quarterback was eliminated because of the reasons he took his retirement – mainly his family. His children are growing up and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, said she struggled to watch him take so many beatings. But Brady is able to return thanks to the full support of his family.
In a statement Sunday, Arians said the team is “ecstatic” that Brady has decided to return for another season.
“Tom Brady loves playing football as much as anyone I’ve been around,” Arians said. “As Tom said, his place right now is on the football pitch.”
The news also comes a day after a collector paid $518,000 for the ball used in Brady’s last touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Evans, who enthusiastically tweeted “LFG!” moments after Brady’s announcement.
Brady’s return comes on the eve of NFL free agency in which the Bucs will face a strong chance of firing all of their free agents. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, center Ryan Jensen, right guard Alex Cappa, cornerback Carlton Davis, running back Leonard Fournette, safety Jordan Whitehead, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and outside linebacker Jason Pierre- Paul is expected to become unrestricted free agents with the Bucs currently $11 million over the salary cap.
Gronkowski has not yet committed to returning for the 2022 season, and he said at the end of the season that his status would not be tied to Brady.
The Buccaneers saw their chances of winning the Super Bowl at Caesars Sportsbook go from 20-1 on Sunday to 10-1 after Brady’s return was announced. Their chances of winning the NFC have gone from 10-1 to 5-1, just behind the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.
Brady was listed at 45-1 to win the 2022 NFL MVP award prior to the announcement, but those odds have not yet been reposted. Super Bowl and NFC odds fell for 90 minutes as Caesars Sportsbook worked on the news, while booking NCAA tournament lines.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.